Name That Party, Baltimore Edition; Brief Running in WaPo Leaves Out Dem Affiliation

January 8th, 2009 11:29 AM

If ever there was a new year's resolution the mainstream media could take up, it would be to note the party affiliation of indicted politicians regardless of their political party and especially when noting indictments in urban areas where one party holds a monopoly on city government.

Take for example a January 8 Baltimore Sun article running on page B4 of the same day's Washington Post*, that informed readers that Baltimore City Council member Helen Holton was indicted the day before "on bribery charges related to tax breaks for a high-end building under construction on the [Baltimore] city waterfront." Also indicted in the same investigation was Ronald H. Lipscomb, a real estate developer "with close ties to Mayor Sheila Dixon." 

Neither Dixon's nor Holton's party affiliations were mentioned in the 5-paragraph Baltimore Sun brief, although a longer article available at the paper's Web site noted that Holton is a "West Baltimore Democrat." Dixons' party affiliation was left unmentioned in the Jan. 7 article filed by staffers Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz.

[click here for related stories on media outlets ignoring Dixon's party affiliation]

A quick Web search for Baltimore City's most recent city government election (Nov. 2007) returns shows that not only Holton and Dixon are Democrats but that Baltimore's entire 15-member city council is Democratic in party affiliation, as is the city's comptroller.

*A few weeks, the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post announced an editorial partnership designed to save costs and increase readership at both papers. Noted reporter Stephen Kiehl in the December 24 Sun:

The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, longtime rivals in covering Maryland news, said yesterday they would begin sharing stories and photos in a deal intended to save resources for both organizations.

Editors stressed that they would still compete on coverage of state government and other areas such as University of Maryland athletics. But the papers will share some suburban, national and foreign content, along with certain sports stories.

"I know journalists in both newsrooms may find this anathema," said Timothy A. Franklin, editor of The Sun, "but we're talking about daily, breaking, fairly routine stories so The Sun can use its resources developing original, unique content, which I think is a key part of our future success."

The Sun will use The Post's coverage of Navy football and have access to The Post's federal government coverage, which will be of interest for the many federal workers in the region, Franklin said. And The Post will use The Sun's coverage of Howard and Anne Arundel counties, as well as its horse racing stories. When news breaks in more remote areas of the state, the papers may confer about coverage.